I've been very bad about picking up "Previews" at the comic shop lately, but that's OK. We run all of the front-of-catalog solicitations right here at CBR. Let's take a look at some of them this week:

Dark Horse

Joss Whedon writes "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow," a new one shot due out December 23rd. Merry Christmas, Browncoats! (OK, so I'm sorta mixing fandoms there, but it's about 99% the same.) Karl Moline draws it, so it'll be pretty, too. Makes me want to go back to read "Route 666" all over again.

"Conan the Cimmerian: The Weight of the Crown" is a one shot for December 16th by Darick Robertson. I never thought of him that way before, but I think Robertson's style lends itself well to a Conan comic. Glad to see he's doing one.

Another thought: A "Modern Masters: Darick Robertson" book would be cool.

But the highlight of the month is "Empowered," the first comic book format one-shot by Adam Warren, starring everyone's favorite bondage girl/superhero. I was hoping it would be in full color, but it's still black and white. 32 pages for $4 on December 2nd. That's not so long to wait.

DC Entertainment

I'm happy for Greg Rucka getting the chance to return to Wonder Woman with "Blackest Night: Wonder Woman" #1. And, hey, zombie Maxwell Lord is out for revenge. Good times!

"Lobo: Highway to Hell" #2 brings two things back into my life: the artwork of Sam Kieth, and the character of Lobo. Once slightly overexposed, Lobo has been mostly absent from the comics scene for the last decade. Even a Keith Giffen mini a few years back failed to reignite the character. That original series from the 1990s had some highlights. It might be worth digging those up for a Pipeline Retro some day.

"The Starman Omnibus" Volume 4 is advance solicited for mid-February 2010. Start saving your pennies now; you'll be needing 4,999 of them for this book.

The new "Human Target" trade paperback collects the four-issue mini-series from Peter Milligan and Edvin Biukovic along with the "Final Cut" original graphic novel that Milligan did with Javier Pulido on art. Both are highly recommended, as is the on-going series that Milligan did at the time. This is all in support of the upcoming television series, and is solicited for mid-January.

Image Comics

Michael Avon Oeming starts his new series, "God Complex," about the difficulties of being a Greek or Roman God. Oeming's writing it with Daniel Berman, while John Broglia draws it in a very Oeming-esque style. I hate to say it, but I think the last story I enjoyed involving Gods on earth was "The Incredible Hulk" during the Pantheon days. And, yes, Dale Keown drew some of those issues.

Certain comic archetypes keep popping up over and over again, but they're just not for me. Whether it's "Jersey Gods" or "God Complex" or "New Gods" or, heck, "The Mighty Thor," I just can't get into it. I've enjoyed some "Thor" stuff here and there, but that's about it. Eh.

"Night of the Bedbugs" is the latest picture book from Jim Valentino's "Silverline" imprint of books made specifically for kids. It's a brilliant career move for him. Honestly, look at the last few projects Valentino did in the sort of standard Direct Market comic book style. None of them got very far. When all else fails, think outside that market. And so Silverline Books is born, sold through the Direct Market and Diamond but, let's be honest, aimed at libraries and children, who can gobble up these books and turn an innocent looking story into an overnight sensation.

Format wise, these stories have been more comic book style than picture book style. That is, the story is told in sequential narrative, with occasional caption boxes to move along the story when dialogue balloons just won't do. As a bonus, that helps education small children into reading comics, right? Maybe that pays off years down the line.

In any case, "Night of the Bedbugs" is written and drawn by Paul Fricke. It's 32 pages for $13. It has a beautiful full color and cartoony art style with rhyming narrative and dialogue. Looks exciting. But can it stand up to the work of Sandra Boynton? I'll have to get back to you on that. . .

Fans of "The Savage Dragon" get to geek out on the cover to "Dragon" #155. It's a cover redrawn from the original opening two page spread of the first issue of the series, only now all the characters are Dragon blood-infused. Pardon my fanboyishness for a moment, but -- COOL!

Marvel Comics

There's something that makes me chuckle about seeing a solicitation for "Spider-Man & The Secret Wars" being two slots above "Spider-Man: The Clone Saga," with "Spider-Man 1602" smashed inbetween. Chuckle, or cry for the future? Not sure which. Look, I'm all for taking the occasional trip back in the time travel machine and reliving the glories of lost youth. Look at some of my reviews this year, and you'll see that. But can't we do something better? Something more? Something new?

There are six different "Hulk" titles solicited for December.

Remember when John Byrne's "X-Men" comic was cancelled because it was looking backwards instead of forwards in a market with too many X-books?

I know that times change and whatnot, so it's probably not a fair comparison. But the one thing can't help but spark memories of the other thing for me.

There's a market for all these books, don't get me wrong. Nobody's telling anyone to buy them all. I'm not saying that. It's just that the energy to create some of these things almost seems wasted to me.

Am I just a Scrooge, or an old senile comics fan?

I'm happy to be able to read the "Spider-Woman" comic book, because I couldn't make it past a minute and a half of the motion comic. Maybe I am just an old man.

Screw it, let's just get to the collected editions and hope for a joyous nostalgia trip:

"Fortune and Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book Story" gets a deluxe hardcover edition for $20. It's in color now. I haven't read this in years. I think it'll be fun and timely to read it, now that Hollywood owns the comics industry officially.

"Ed Hannigan: Covered" looks like a worthy item. It's being done for The Hero Initiative to support the one time Marvel cover designer, who's fallen ill and can use some support. For $6, it's obviously a nice way to give back, but I'm most impressed at a design book for comics. I think we could use more serious examination into the world of graphic design and how it impacts on comics, and their covers and cover dress in particular. I doubt this book will be a vanguard for that movement, but you never know.

"Black Widow: Web of Intrigue" is an interesting looking Premiere Edition hardcover novelty item. It collects "Marvel Fanfare" #10-13, for goodness sakes, plus "Bizarre Adventures" #25 and "Black Widow: The Coldest War" graphic novel. The highlight for all of this is George Perez's work, though Bob Layton and Paul Gulacy also feature. It'll run you $25.

While Marvel continues to churn out premiere edition hardcovers collecting six issues of current popular series, it's these little one-off efforts that intrigue me the most. The rest are almost predictable, but every now and then a book like this comes along to reminds us that there's a lot of stuff out there that we've forgotten about or never knew about. I'm in the latter camp on this Black Widow hardcover and might give it a shot just based on that.

Totally unfair, I know, but the fact that the guy who gave the comics world "Ant" is now drawing a comic based on a Robert Lewis Stevenson novels makes me chuckle again. You can now buy "Kidnapped" adapted by Roy Thomas and drawn by Mario Gully in paperback form for $15.

For some purposeful chuckles, though, you'll be needing to pick up "Mini Marvels Collection" trade paperback, with 216 pages of Chris Giarrusso's little Marvel characters getting into wild and crazy mixed up adventures. These are all short gags collected from all corners of the Marvel Universe. For $20, you can't go wrong.

"Essential X-Factor" Volume 3 features a cover by Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane. Back in the day, those two kids were bestest buddies and helped each other out. McFarlane inked a few of Liefeld's "New Mutants" covers to great effect. I like the way McFarlane's inks smoothed out Liefeld's rougher lines, all the while keeping the existing foundation and structure. OK, so Cyclops' right arm looks stunted here, but the overall effect is neat.

And since the stories in the volume crossed over into "Uncanny X-Men" at the time, you'll see work from Art Adams, Rob Liefeld, and Marc Silvestri. That's not a bad chunk of comics for $20.

20 years from now, which "Essentials" volume will provoke the same kind of reaction from today's younger comic reader? Or am I fooling myself that comics will still be printed on paper in 20 years?


  • The death of Library Binding's services turned out to be greatly exaggerated. Or, at least, they changed their mind. Either way, the Texas company is back to taking orders and shipments of your comics to bind. Cool! Congrats to all the binding fiends out there.
  • If you are a publisher looking to get me to review your comic, the single worst way to do it is to refer to your new "property." I like comics. I'm not here to discuss multimedia tie-ins to something you fabricated in the hopes of being the next King of All Media.

    That said, the odds are extremely low that I have time to look at such solicitations out of the clear blue. Sorry to say, that's just the way life is these days.

  • I am reading something for next week's Pipeline, though. Stay tuned for a Pipeline Retro that takes us back to 1990. This might be the first Retro where my opinion of the series drops in hindsight. We'll see soon enough.
  • You can now read the entire issue of "The Darkness/Pitt" #1 right here at CBR. Whew, I almost thought I'd go two weeks in a row without sending my spellchecker into fits with "Dale Keown," and here I got to do it twice in this column!
  • The trickiest part of the last month's worth of news is keeping all the names straight. The worst one: one of the guys at Disney rumored to be taking departing Chairman of Walt Disney Studios Dick Cook's job is Rich Ross (President, Disney Channels Worldwide). He is not Ross Richie, the head of Boom! Studios, currently publishing the Disney Duck titles.
  • Did you see the new "Mickey Mouse and Friends" comic cover? Pretty spiffy.
  • Are we now officially at the point of having a comic book convention every weekend? The comic book industry is going to have to double in size in short order to provide a steady supply of comic professionals to attend all of these shows.

Next week: Pipeline Retro. I mentioned it about five bullet points ago. How quickly you forget.

My photoblog, AugieShoots.com heads back to the lake, with more ducks.

The Various and Sundry blog putters right along, as an occasionally updated blog when the feeling strikes me.

Don't forget to check out my Google Reader Shared Items. It's the best of my daily feed reading, sometimes with commentary!

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 800 columns -- more than twelve years' worth -- are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.

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